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Miniblog #329: My Response to Mark Driscoll’s Apology & Aspired Change

by Carson T. Clark on March 17, 2014

It recently came out that Mark Driscoll has apologized to Mars Hill and committed to changing his life and ministry. Let’s just get it out of the way in a single sentence that I love that he’s admitting his limitations and, in light of that of such humility, am giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s committed to real change. At the same time,11.Not “But.” what I dislike even in his apology letter are these continuing false dichotomies upon which he seems to frame nearly everything. In this case, he seems to presume the only options are “angry-young-prophet” or “helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father.” Why must the prophet role go hand-in-hand with anger? Yes, it often does, but surely it doesn’t have to. Likewise, isn’t it possible for a pastor to exercise what Walter Brueggemann calls the “prophetic imagination” while also serving as a spiritual father?22.In fact, my life experience would suggest the the very best pastors do precisely that. All of which points to my larger criticism. Time and again Driscoll substitutes simplicity for precision, zeal for sound critical thought. Or, perhaps more accurately, he uses zealous simplicity to cover over the weaknesses of and deficiencies in his critical thought.33.It’s a approach that says, “If you don’t know the facts, just state what you do know and say it confidently. Also, dismiss all nuance off-hand as unimportant.” Don’t get me wrong. I loathe apathy. It’s useless. You cannot do anything with it. It just sits there like a nice car that’s out of gas. To quote Billy Madison, “Whoopty-doo!” Apathy is probably the character trait that annoys me most. That’s why I love passion. Even if it’s misguided now it can be harnessed later.44.See: Saul –> Paul. If there’s one thing I like about Driscoll, it’s his passion. It just needs to be harnessed better. It appears he now sees that, but I don’t particularly care for the vision he’s casting as a solution. Honestly, I don’t particularly want Driscoll to become this more subdued spiritual father type.55.In my opinion, the American Christianity has a surplus of those as it is. Instead I’d like him to aspire toward a middle-way. Namely, I’d like to see him retain the passion, drop the knee-jerk anger, raise his level of critical thought, tack on some more civility,6.I’ve seen it done, and that man changed the trajectory of my life. revision the prophet role, and dig deeper into the spiritual father role. Can that be done? Yes.6 Of course, it may be the case that Driscoll just doesn’t have the intellectual talents.77.I say that as no insult but a possible acknowledgment of his limitations, which we all have. If that’s the case–and I’m ignorant as to whether that’s the case–then I suppose I’d have to agree. The subdued, helpful, spiritual father route is probably the way to go.

  • Leo Staley

    Thank you. You hit the nail on the head. Every part of that. I agree unreservedly.

    • http://carsontclark.com/ carsontclark

      You know how I feel about people unreservedly agreeing with me…

    • Leo Staley

      Yes. And I feel exactly the same way. Which is, of course, awkward.

      The problem was that what you said there was almost like you stole them out of my head, not that I listened to you and agreed uncritically.

    • http://carsontclark.com/ carsontclark

      Batman Forever, man. Batman Forever.

    • Leo Staley

      The movie has its flaws,yes, but with Val Kilmer, Jim Carey as the Joker, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-face, Drew Barrymore in a cameo as one of his girls, and all of that pure 90s, how can you not appreciate it as a thing of sublime beauty?

    • http://carsontclark.com/ carsontclark

      I look back t it as one of those films in which the good elements are really good and the bad elements are really bad. Love Tommy Lee Jones, but his Two Face kinda sucked. Likewise didn’t care for Val Kilmer as Batman. But I did like Jim Carey as the Riddler and Chris O’Donnell as Robin… Infinitely better than Batman and Robin, though.

    • Leo Staley

      Val Kilmer rocked the Bruce Wayne. Nobody did it better. Okay, George Clooney did a great Bruce Wayne too, but he was given an infinitely worse script.

      But, exalting its campiness (jokingly) aside, I still think it deserves a bit more credit. If we ignore Batman and Robin, it served as the perfect bridge between the the different cultural eras of batman.

      Not only that, it perfectly captured the self-aware silliness-as-subtlety that the nineties culture was so thoroughly composed of. The movie was laden with silliness which was actually commentary on homosexuality, gender confusion, and sexual deviation.

      I’m actually serious about that by the way. Though, no, it’s not really that great of a movie on its own.

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